Sleeping well, can be something that escapes a lot of people. They just don;t realise that throughout the day we consume a variety of foods and beverages. Many are blind, however, to the subtle effects that certain foods and drinks can have. Foods and beverages can contain amino acids or stimulants which can have a profound effect on one’s brain making it harder to fall asleep at night. In this article we’re going to look at some of the main offenders, the foods, drinks and additives best avoided if you want to have a good, healthy and restive night’s sleep.
Beverages such as coffee, black tea, green tea and cola, as well as many beverages branded as “energy drinks” all contain certain levels of caffeine. The traces of caffeine found in tea are more subtle, and so the body can process the caffeine easier.
The caffeine levels found in coffee, however, can last for hours causing disruption to getting a good night’s rest. Those who are sensitive to caffeine can have their nightly routine messed up simply by having one cup of coffee that morning. If you find you are sensitive to caffeine, avoid drinks like green tea as well. Many people who have encountered sleep related problems found they disappear after they cut their regular intake of coffee.
You may have heard of cheese and nightmares. It seems like there is some truth to this old adage. Certain aged cheese like Parmesan, Pecorino and Asiago are known to contain high levels of an amino acid called tyramine. Tyramine is known to create a mentally stimulating effect on one’s brain the symptoms of which may include nightmares. Consuming cheese before bedtime can lead to restless sleep for other reasons also. Cheese contains a high content of vitamin B6, particularly varieties such as Stilton.
Vitamin B6 is used in the creation of the sleep-regulating neurotransmitter serotonin, and so an abundance of B6 can potentially induce hormonal imbalance.
Processed meats are another common cause of insomnia. Many people, particularly after a hard day’s work, like to fix a quick and easy dinner made from processed meats. Unfortunately these also can contain the amino acid tyramine. Processed meats are generally low in quality, and therefore harder to digest, and also full of salt and so are best avoided in the evening, especially before bedtime.
Some people say a piece of dark chocolate before bedtime is ideal, as it contains high magnesium content which can supposedly relax you. This is untrue. Chocolate contains only a small amount of magnesium and tyrosine, an amino acid that is converted into dopamine. Dopamine is a pretty potent stimulant released by our brains when we experience pleasure, an abundance of which can result in a restless and disturbed sleep.
There are several drinks that may relax you and make you feel sleepy. The long term effects, however, of these beverages tell a very different story. Even a small amount of alcohol can interrupt deep sleep. You may think you sleep well after consuming several alcoholic drinks, but it will be a low quality sleep and you are bound to wake up with a hangover!
Four Simple Tips for Getting a Great Night’s Sleep
Do you want to be mentally sharp, productive, full of energy and emotionally balanced? Your entire day depends on whether or not you got a good rest the night before. The cure to daytime fatigue and sleep difficulties can be found in day to day lifestyle choices. Here are some sleep tips to optimize your nightly rest.
Tip# 1 Set a Regular Schedule
An important strategy to getting a good night’s rest is to keep your body in sync with a regular schedule. Go to bed and wake up every day at the same time. This will keep you more energized and refreshed than if you slept at different hours each night. Consistency is vital when looking to achieve a good night’s sleep. If you want to make up for lost hours take a daytime nap instead of sleeping late. This strategy helps you continue undisturbed in your natural sleep, while paying off a sleep debt during the day. If napping causes insomnia, as it can do with older adults, limit your nap to thirty minutes. If you become drowsy after dinner do something such as calling a friend or washing dishes. Giving in to drowsiness can result in trouble later in the night.
Tip# 2 Create a Sleep-Friendly Environment
The quality of sleep is as vital as the number of hours. You need to make your bedroom into the ideal sleeping environment. Keep the bedroom quiet. While you may be able to drown out certain noises, sleep studies have proven that sounds still disturb a good night’s rest. In order to eliminate noise from loud neighbors, barking dogs and city traffic, play soothing music or use a fan to mask the sound. Earplugs are also helpful to drive away unnecessary sounds. Keep the room dark; avoid dim lights that can confuse the body clock. Use shades or heavy curtains to block the light seeping through windows. Adjust the temperature in your room at 18 degrees Celsius (38 Fahrenheit) and ensure your room is properly ventilated.
Tip# 3 Create a Bedtime Routine
Make a consistent effort to unwind and relax before bedtime. A relaxing bedtime routine will send powerful signals to one’s brain that it is time to go to sleep. While there may be a television in the room, it stimulates the mind instead of relaxing it. This is partly due to content. Late night shows frequently screen violent and disturbing content. Even non-violent content can be jarring and loud.
Tip# 4 Get Regular Exercise
Your exercise habits can affect your sleep at night. Regular exercise is one great way of promoting a good night’s sleep. It doesn’t have to be a rigorous exercise schedule, even thirty minutes of exercise helps. You can break the thirty minute session into five, ten minute short sessions and still reap the benefits. Go on a bicycle ride, take a walk or do some gardening.
After a good night’s rest it is essential you learn to wake up gently. Avoid waking up to a jarring alarm clock as it can cause stress to the body. Wake up naturally, because your body has had a good night’s sleep. Use an alarm clock with gentle music such as bell chimes. If you can afford to luxuriate in bed for 30 minutes, listen to music, read a book or mediate. This transports your body gently into the day and makes you become more focused and grounded.